Access to social assistance for refugee claimants

On 16 December 2014, Bill C-43 received Royal Assent. This bill includes provisions that would allow provinces to deny social assistance to newly arrived refugee claimants, by imposing minimum residency requirements.

The provisions were opposed by organizations from a wide range of sectors, including health, poverty, human rights, faith communities, refugees, women and legal advocates. There were more than 160 signatories to an Open Letter to Finance Minister Joe Oliver

Although Bill C-43 is now law, the measures will not take effect unless a province decides to impose a residency requirement for refugee claimants.

What has changed?

Amendments were made to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act that allow provinces to impose residency requirements for access to social assistance, but only for refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. Previously, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act prohibited any minimum period of residency requirement, for anyone. 

For more information, see Refugees and social assistance: Frequently Asked Questions

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